Monday, September 06, 2010

London’s Other Workers: multimedia

This multimedia presentation of the London's Other Workers project combines still photos and a recorded interview with Alberto Durango, who has worked as a cleaner since he came to London in 1995 to escape paramilitaries in his native Colombia. In this 3 minute piece he talks about the problems faced by the cleaners who work through the night in the office buildings of London’s financial district.

Putting together still photographs and words, whether written or spoken, can be very powerful. For the written word, the books John Berger made with the Swiss photographer Jean Mohr are a model for many. A Seventh Man, which explores the experiences of southern European migrant workers in north-western Europe, is probably the best known.

What makes them stand out is the way in which the images and text do not refer directly to each other, but run in parallel, expressing complementary aspects of their subjects’ experiences. Berger and Mohr did not use photographs to ‘illustrate’ the text, but allowed them to tell their own related, but different, story.

Something similar can be done with photographs and the spoken word. Technology has moved on since the days of tape-slide, but the produce of digital cameras and sound recorders can be put together to much the same effect. Tape-slide required cumbersome equipment, and its audiences were necessarily small. The modern digitised version makes possible cheap, instant and unlimited distribution via websites, blogs and all the other channels the internet has to offer.

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